Friday, July 19th 2019: Europe fines Qualcomm, EU approves Vodafone’s Liberty deal, United States shoot down Iranian drone over Strait of Hormuz

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

Europe fines Qualcomm: The EU Commission has hit the world’s no.1 chipmaker Qualcomm with a €242 million fine, saying the US chipmaker used predatory pricing to drive a competitor out of the market for 3G phone hardware. The Commission accused Qualcomm of predatory pricing between 2009 and 2011 aimed at forcing out British phone software maker Icera, now part of Nvidia Corp. It said Qualcomm was able to gain about a 60% share of the market by undercutting Icera. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Qualcomm’s strategic behavior prevented competition and innovation in the market. Qualcomm announced that it would appeal the decision, which it described as meritless.
cnbc.com, cnn.com, reuters.com

EU approves Vodafone’s Liberty deal: Vodafone is set to become Europe’s largest mobile, broadband and TV provider. The company has won conditional EU approval for its 18.4 billion euro takeover of Liberty Global Plc’s cable assets in Germany and eastern Europe. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the approval was subject to remedies designed to ensure that customers will continue enjoying fair prices, high-quality services and innovative products. Vodafone assuaged EU concerns by offering to give smaller rival Telefonica SA access to its entire German cable network and providing assurances to German broadcasters worried about its power. The EU Commission said that meant Telefonica would be able to compete more effectively for broadband internet in the country.
bloomberg.com, reuters.com

G7 countries plan digital tax: Finance ministers from the world’s largest economies have reached a consensus on steps towards a deal on taxing digital giants, an issue that has divided the United States and its allies Britain and France. The new tax will be based on a digital and not just physical presence, according to a summary of the ministers‘ discussions on Thursday. German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said he was happy with the progress achieved and in particular with the reference to the minimum tax level in the final statement. Further talks would now be needed in the wider context of the G20 group for an international agreement. He expressed hope that a full international consensus could be reached next year. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked for assurance that American technology companies would not be discriminated against.
wsj.com, france24.com, reuters.com

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EU calls for sanctions against Venezuela: The EU Parliament has adopted a resolution on the situation in Venezuela, expressing its deep concern at the severe state of emergency in the country. MEPs called on the EU to adopt additional sanctions targeting state authorities responsible for human rights violations and repression. They said EU authorities must restrict the movements of these individuals, freeze their assets and suspend visas. MEPs held President Nicolas Maduro directly responsible for the indiscriminate use of violence to repress the process of democratic transition and the restoration of the rule of law in Venezuela.
europarl.europa.eu

United States shoot down Iranian drone over Strait of Hormuz: The American military shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, US President Donald Trump announced. He said the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, took down the drone in a defensive action. A Pentagon spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, said in a statement that the Boxer was in international waters and that the drone closed within a threatening range before taking defensive action. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he was not aware of any downing of an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces have seized a foreign oil tanker accusing 12 crew members of smuggling oil, state TV reported Thursday. The US has blacklisted several companies and individuals it said helped Iran procure materials for the country’s nuclear-enrichment program. Russia has said it may join the EU payment system Instex, which is designed to facilitate payments to Iran despite US trade sanctions.
nytimes.com, cnbc.com, reuters.com (Drone); nbcnews.com (Tanker); wsj.com (Sanctions); telegraph.co.uk (Instex)

Ceta: Canada says it’s close to deal with EU on possible fix to WTO deadlock reuters.com
Environment: European development banks put 10 billion euros in sustainability initiatives de.reuters.com
European Investment Bank: EIB joins renewAfrica initiative neweurope.eu
European Central Bank: ECB is apparently reviewing its inflation target bloomberg.com
International Monetary Fund: IMF front-runner list to replace Lagarde narrows to eurozone candidates wsj.com

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

We don’t want a hard Brexit, it’s a bad outcome for both sides.
Future EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has warned that a hard Brexit would have negative consequences for both Britain and the EU.
theguardian.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Italian Interior Minister threatens new election: The leaders of Italy’s coalition partners the League and 5-Star Movement have warned that the government could collapse. While the League voted against German candidate Ursula von der Leyen for the EU Commission presidency, the 5-Star backed her this week in the EU Parliament. League leader and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini accused his partner of betraying ordinary voters after promising to bring radical change to Europe. He said in an interview published on Thursday that it was up to the 5-Star Movement to decide if the government coalition would survive, based on their cooperation on a plan to increase regional autonomy, next year’s budget and a reform of judicial system.
uk.reuters.com, cnbc.com

Greece picks Schinas for EU Commissioner: Greece has nominated the EU Commission’s chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas as its next commissioner. Schinas will succeed Dimitris Avramopoulos as Greece’s representative in the EU Commission, but he is not likely to take over the migration portfolio, as former premier Alexis Tsipras negotiated at the last EU Council. Austria confirmed on Thursday that it wants Johannes Hahn, the current European Commissioner for enlargement, to stay on as its member of the next Commission. The Slovenian government nominated its permanent representative at the EUn, Janez Lenarcic, for the post of EU commissioner.
uk.reuters.com, euractiv.com, nytimes.com, reuters.com

German foreign minister calls on Russia to release Ukrainian sailors: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday. Their discussions were centered on the preservation of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, the future of arms control, and the situation in eastern Ukraine. Relations between Russia and Germany have been strained over Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. Maas said that although Germany and Russia have different positions on eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, the two countries needed to work together on the political level to find solutions, adding that the constructive participation of Russia was necessary to solve international issues. He also called for the release of 24 Ukrainian sailors in Russian custody.
dw.com

Germany: Police raid suspected Islamists‘ homes dw.com

⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃

politjobs.eu: Alfa Fellowship Program seeks Young German, British, and American Leaders *** FTA seeks Regulatory Affairs Advisor (m/f) *** Bayer seeks Trainee (m/f) *** ISN seeks Advocacy Officer (m/f) *** Politico seeks Lobbying Reporter (m/f) *** EGEC seeks Trainee (m/f) *** Facebook seeks Public Policy Manager (m/f) *** Google seeks Public Policy and Government Relations Manager (m/f) *** DEKRA offers Internship (m/f) *** European Friends of Amernia seeks Communications and Media Engagement Officer (m/f) *** International Crisis Group seeks Analyst (m/f)
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)

⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃

Timmermans calls Brexit negotiators idiots: Frans Timmermans, the EU Commission’s vice president, has accused British Brexit negotiators of running around like idiots, comparing them to the hapless characters from classic TV sitcom „Dad’s Army“. Timmermans said EU leaders believed British ministers would produce “Harry Potter-like” trickery when they began negotiations in 2017. Instead they acted like Lance Corporal Jones from the classic sitcom, Timmermans told BBC’s Panorama program.
independent.co.uk, politico.eu

 

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